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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Slow Down Surgery--Part I

Slow Down Surgery Part I

As 2002 progressed, I thought that the Haitian kids surgeries were being scheduled very slowly after I brought them to Peoria.

Katheline was an example. She was a 2 year old with several congenital heart defects who was examined for the first time by her pediatric cardiologist on October 16,02. She had an echocardiogram in his office and needed to have cardiac catheterization to further deliniate her cardiac anatomy.

Week after week went by and the cardiac catheterization was not scheduled. Her host family wondered what was happening. Her cadiologist was upset about the delay as well.

In mid-November I attempted to talk with her cardiologist 3 times in one day, and he would not return his page. He was new to Peoria and I thought probably afraid to talk about the situation.

On November 22, I took a good friend of mine who is a Sister in Peoria to the pediatric cardiology office with me and and went in and spoke with Sandy, one of the cardiology nurses who had always been very helpful with all of the Haitian kids over the years. I asked Sandy if Katheline was scheduled for the catheterization. She said “no”. I asked her why. Sandy stated that Paul Kramer told another cardiologist not to schedule Katheline because of money. I thanked Sandy for her help. She seemed quite embarrassed to have to give the news too me about this child. Sandy was a good nurse and knew very well what was happening here with Katheline.

Sister and I walked to Paul Kramer’s office about 2:15 PM. We sat outside Paul’s office for about 15 minuters prior to being invited in which gave them time to run and get an assistant administrator to be in Paul’s office when we came in. We were then invited in and Paul politely introduced himself to Sister. Before we sat down, I requested a private meeting with Kramer and asked if the well placed assistant administrator would leave. (I had learned that OSF administration was really good about out numbering me during my visits with them during the previous year.) The administrator was more than happy to leave. Kramer acted like he was shocked that I wanted the guy to leave….

Anyway, Sister and I sat down. I asked Paul if he new “Katheline’s story”. It took me five different ways to ask the same question before Paul would even say he knew who Katheline was. Sister was getting the point quickly as we sat around the small table in Paul’s office at OSF.

I asked Paul in multiple different fashions if he knew that Katheline was not scheduled for surgery. He finally said “no” that he did not know that she was not scheduled for surgery. (Paul did not realize that we had just been in the cardiology office.) I looked frequently at Sister and asked her if she heard that response and she would nod yes. I then asked him if he knew that she wasn’t scheduled for her cardiac catheterization. He ran around and around with his answer again. After much prodding by me, he admitted that he had spoken with a pediatric cardiologist and told him to defer the procedure for now. I asked him if he had spoken with Katheline’s frustrated new young pediatric cardiologist and he wouldn’t tell me. Why all the secrecy? I told Paul that the pediatric cardiology office was still open, the nurses were there, and he could lift his order on her cardiac procedeure.

Sister and I left his office as Paul was berating me and walked down the main hall at OSF. I said to Sister, “Welcome to St. Francis.” She looked absolutely mortified and drained from these experiences. I really needed a witness to these conversations and she was perfect to have at my side.

Several more days passed and Katheline remained off the schedule for cardiac catheterization. Katheline’s host father worked at OSF, so he really couldn’t do or say much if he wanted to keep his job.

The following week I called Linda Simpkins, RN who is in charge of the Pediatric Resource Center at OSF-CHOI. Linda does a great job dealing everyday with children that are abused and neglected in central Illinois. I made a formal complaint against Paul Kramer and CHOI for institutional neglect of my Haitian patient, Katheline. Linda was very nice and took the complaint very seriously.

Several hours later, after various phone calls had been made between big players at CHOI, I was called and Katheline was on the catheterization schedule for the following week. She sailed through her cath and then had surgery and did very well.

I was Katheline’s doctor, guardian, and her parents had put Katheline in my arms in the Haitian airport unable to travel with her for her heart surgery in the United States. Katheline’s Peoria host family, Haitian Hearts and I had an enormous attachment to this little girl.

What would you have done if Katheline were your child? Would you have advocated for her?

I took her back to her grateful parents in Haiti several months later. They had no idea of the bad faith and actions that occurred regarding their little girl prior to her successful surgery.

May 5, 2006

OSF's "embargo" on my Haitian kids continues. The boy pictured at the top of this post is James. James is 16 years old and needs surgery on his mitral valve very soon. Please help if you can. He is in school in Port-au-Prince and the principal of his school e mails me frequently begging that we find a medical center to perform his heart surgery.


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